Deck review: Romantic Tarot

Set in the Victorian Era, the Romantic tarot deck takes us for a spin across four emblematic European cities: Venice, Rome, Paris, and Vienna. Each city will allow us to explore the light and shadows of Love. 

Romantic Tarot deck
  • Creator: Emanuela Signorini and Giulia F. Massaglia
  • Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
  • Year: 2015
  • Deck tradition: Unique (RWS-based)
  • Suits: Wands, Chalices, Swords, Pentacles
  • Court cards: Knave, Knight, Queen, King
  • Minor arcana: Illustrated
  • Back design: Reversible

General thoughts

The Romantic Tarot promises to be an exploration of love, touching on the good and the bad, the petty and the sublime. It delivers.

Often, when a deck attempts to stray too far from the traditional depictions found in Tarot, it’s either pretty or useful, but rarely both. The Romantic Tarot deck is as gorgeous as it promises it’ll be, with its traditional-like images and its whimsy depictions of not just romance, but amorous relationships in general, and at the same time, it’s so rich in detail that the cards will tell you their story just by looking at them.

Besides, love and romance is one of those subjects that will come up again and again. Why, it’s what I ask about when I decide to step back from a situation and get a reading done! So having a specialty deck geared toward this kind of questions can truly enrich your readings and add that one extra layer of detail you didn’t know you were missing.

Reading ease

If you’re an absolute newbie to tarot, you should really start with another deck. The Romantic Tarot doesn’t have a detailed guide, and the little reference booklet it includes isn’t enough to learn to read tarot.

True, the imagery is compelling, and you might end up not needing books, booklets, or any sort of reference after all… but the ability to walk away from those interpretative crutches and interact directly with the cards usually comes with experience.

If you have some experience under your belt, or if you remain undaunted by my warnings and determined to learn using the Romantic Tarot, the deck includes a Little White Book (LWB) in five different languages to add some extra poetry to the images. Each card is given a title, a one-sentence description and a  keyword. While suggestive, I’m not convinced of the usefulness of the LWB.

All of that said, I have to confess that once I took the plunge, stepped away from traditional meanings or LWB indications, and started to read the cards, they flowed beautifully, and so far, I’ve always been spot on when using the Romantic Tarot deck in a reading.

My favorite cards

Romantic Tarot Favorites

I have so many!

Remember, this deck doesn’t correspond to the traditional Raider-Waite-Smith meanings. Because of that, each image is unique, and it conveys exactly its meaning–there is no such thing as “missing symbology” or “misleading characterization”, because we’re working from a blank slate. And the Romantic Tarot does a wonderful job of filling that slate with heaps of details and nuances!

Playing favorites with this deck is just about picking images that I like personally, really. I’m usually drawn to the suit of Swords, and I’ve of course fallen for the images depicting Imperial Vienna: just take a look at the fatal duel fought on the Three of Swords, the jealousy depicted in the ball of the Nine of Swords, or the tender good-bye we can witness in the Ten of Swords.

However, if I had to pick one card from the suit, I’d pick the King of Swords: standing fom his throne, his weapon broken, his shield discarded… and still, so very much in control. What power he radiates!

These cards don’t resonate with me

Romantic Tarot Dislikes

Again, this is a matter of personal preference.

It’s not that these cards don’t carry their own meaning, and it’s not that they are poorly drawn. Actually, there is not a single poorly drawn card in the Romantic Tarot deck. 

The Fool is, I think, the only card depicting a surreal scene, as in something physically impossible. I’m not a fan of the dandy walking in the clouds, even though it does make its point.

The Knave of Cups is… notoriously unattractive to me, and because of that, I have a hard time reading him.

And the same thing happens with the Hanged Man. Why did he feel the need to chain himself upside down on the street?

Deck interview

This is a little something I do for every new deck I get my hands on. It’s a short drawing of cards to get to know each other better, and I thought it would be interesting to include it as a section for my tarot reviews. These are the answers this deck gave me:

Who are you?

Romantic Tarot King of Cups

I’ve mastered Love and Emotion. Come, I’ll share my knowledge with you… But my wisdom cannot be learned: it must be felt.

How will you help?

Romantic Tarot Three of Cups

There is a balance between what the mind understands, what the body wants, and what the soul needs. Find me when you need help to find that balance.

Who can we become?

Romantic Tarot Death

We can be free of chains, flowing forward in time wih the cycle of life, experiencing it to the fullest at every turn.

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